By Christie Young
It can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to ‘going green,’ and misinformation about solar energy may have you scratching your head about what’s really best for the environment. Since community solar (and renewable energy in general) is such an important facet of a healthy environment, we wanted to answer one of the most pressing questions our customers have: How does community solar benefit the environment?
Recent technological innovations have allowed humans to more efficiently harness the sun’s power. The rapid adoption of new solar energy technologies is in part a reaction to the consequences of two centuries of fossil fuel burning, which has polluted the air, contaminated the planet’s water and causes millions of premature deaths each year. Producing and consuming fossil fuels also releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, disrupting our planet’s normal climate cycle. We’re already seeing the consequences of climate change, and it’s not just about rising sea levels.
Solar energy is both clean, as it doesn’t cause pollution nor emit carbon, and renewable, as the energy supply from the sun is unlimited. Fossil fuels are used in the manufacturing of solar panels, but these emissions are dropping dramatically as solar capacity increases, and the carbon offset of solar panels far outweighs the emissions generated from their manufacturing.
When the average American household switches to solar energy, approximately 5 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are offset each year - the equivalent of 5,335 pounds of coal not burned. But not everyone has equal access: it is estimated that 80% of Americans cannot install rooftop panels. At Solstice, we want to make it easy for families, regardless of their income or homeowner status, to make the switch to solar, and that's where community solar comes in.
The community solar revolution
Community solar is a mechanism that allows households to access clean, inexpensive energy via a local solar garden, thus bringing solar energy to the mainstream. By creating conditions that allow all Americans to utilize solar, our dependence on and use of fossil fuels will decrease accordingly. That means less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Community solar is still relatively young in its conception and implementation, and there are still real obstacles in bringing community solar to the mainstream. This is at the heart of Solstice’s mission: not only to promote community solar projects, but to make sure that all Americans can access them. Renewable energy must go mainstream in order for humanity to live within the Earth’s limits, and for that to happen, it must be affordable for all Americans.
Our goal is to enroll 50,000 customers over the next five years, and in doing so, we’ll help the US reduce our carbon emissions through the addition of 250 solar farms, avoiding roughly 285,000 tons of CO2 a year (the equivalent of 274 million pounds of coal). On top of that, Solstice customers will save $12 million annually. We love that we’re working towards a solution that is great for the Earth and your bank account.
Want to read about the other benefits of community solar? Check out our previous blog post.